The Blake's 7 Super Test

Blake's 7 Super Test
Blake's Legacy
Blake's Progress
Naming Blake
"Avon: A Terrible Novel"?
Birth Of The Federation
The Blake's 7 Formula
To Kill Or To Stun
The Blake's 7 Drinking Game
Blake's Chicken
Blake's Parrott

{B7 S5 E4}

[Opening view of a large complex of buildings. They are grey and functional in appearance. Several Federation guards are wandering about. The camera follows one of them as he approaches the front of the main installation. One of the thick metal doors is standing open. Its heavily dented twin is lying on a pile of rubble at the side. The marks of an explosion can clearly be seen on the surrounding walls. The guard enters the building. Cut to the Liberator flying rapidly through space. View then switches to show the interior, a recreation room with a bar. Vila is leaning on the edge of the bar with a glass in his hand and an empty bottle next to him. Mags enters the room and he waves in greeting.]

VILA: Come in, have a drink! Just toasting the departed.

MAGS: [Looking at the bottle] It's empty.

VILA: There's a lot of them to toast.

MAGS: I know.

VILA: Don't panic...there's another bottle around here somewhere, unless I already...[he raises another empty bottle]...drank it. Sorry.

MAGS: I'm worried about you Vila.

VILA: Me! Why? I'm wonderful, handsome, talented...couldn't be happier!

MAGS: That's what I'm worried about. You're only happy when you're drunk.

VILA: Nothing wrong with a good drink! Warms the blood, clears the mind, strengthens the

MAGS: Constitution?

VILA: Yeah, that too.

MAGS: It doesn't though, does it Vila? Take it from one who can't drink to forget.

[She walks across the room and flops wearily into a chair.]

MAGS: I've tried it often enough.

VILA: [To himself] I dream about them, dying, over and over again...always too late...I don't dream when I'm drunk.

MAGS: I know...I've used booze for all the wrong reasons and believe me Vila, I've tried hundreds of reasons. In the end it comes down to one simple fact; you shouldn't drink because you need to, you should drink because you want to. At the moment I don't think you really want to.

[Vila suddenly looks confused and very miserable.]

MAGS: Talk to me Vila, I've been there. If you don't face your nightmares, eventually they'll destroy you.

[Scene cuts to Nial, sitting alone in his ship. It is stationary within the Liberator's hold. He is staring blankly out of the viewing window but is unaware that he is doing so. The computer bleeps softly.]

TRISTAN: Nial, do you wish to talk?

NIAL: No. [He pauses for a long moment] I thought I was invincible. I believed it was so simple; assume command, make decisions, give orders. I never realised how much responsibility it carried with it.

TRISTAN: I am here to advise you, if you need me.

NIAL: Thanks Tris but I had plenty of advice...I just didn't listen. [He screws his face up in pain.] He tried to warn me. He said we had to work as a team. I thought I knew best, I was the leader. I was in charge...but I wasn't in control.

TRISTAN: There is no leader in a true team.

NIAL: Yes, I understand that now but it won't bring Tam back. I killed him surely as Avon killed Blake. I couldn't forgive Avon for his mistake, how can I ever forgive myself for mine?

TRISTAN: It is human to make mistakes Nial.

NIAL: We are fighting a ruthless war, I can't afford to be human.

TRISTAN: I do not understand the previous statement. You are human. You cannot choose to be otherwise.

NIAL: Sorry Tristan. Sometimes you seem so real that I forget you're a computer.

TRISTAN: I am as you instructed me to be. Do you wish to reprogram?

NIAL: Not you, no...[he frowns thoughtfully and leans back in his chair]...but perhaps it's time to make some adjustments in my own programming.

[Scene shifts to flight deck. Tegan and Soolin are present. They are standing together looking at one of the consoles.]

SOOLIN: ...that one, I think. [In sudden frustration] Oh I don't know. It's too confusing. Gun fighting is about skill, instinct and speed. This is about memorising what a bunch of numbers mean and which buttons to push, there's no talent involved!

TEGAN: This is only the groundwork Soolin. It is boring, and confusing but once you take control of a ship you'll understand the purpose in learning it.

SOOLIN: Zen can operate all those things on his own. What is the point in having a computer and not letting it do the menial work?

TEGAN: There isn't one...but you won't be piloting the Liberator. Nial has agreed to let you fly Reverence...without Tristan on line.


TEGAN: Well, you won't be alone but it's as close to real flying as you can get these days. Now do you see the need to know which buttons to push?!

[Soolin looks stunned but nods and returns to studying the console. Cut to one of the corridors. Nial approaches a door, hesitates, half turns away but then takes a deep breath and knocks. It slides open to reveal Avon who seems surprised to see Nial.]

NIAL: Can we talk?

AVON: [Guardedly] I might be busy.

NIAL: Then I might leave, gladly.

[He makes no move to go however and after a pause, Avon gestures him in. Inside the room he offers Nial a chair but no further hospitality. Nial sits down and waits for Avon to do likewise before he speaks.]

NIAL: I'll make this as brief as I can.

AVON: It would be briefer if you got straight to the point.

NIAL: [Gritting his teeth] You and I were never supposed to be enemies. Blake intended us to work together, not to fight for control of this ship.

AVON: What are you proposing we do, declare a truce? Isn't it a little late for that.

NIAL: Maybe but I'm prepared to try, if you are. Think about it Avon...together we could survive, individually we'll probably end up fighting each other to the death. Haven't you seen enough death for one lifetime?

AVON: [Looking haunted] What about Blake?

NIAL: [Shuddering] I've learnt a very painful lesson since we 'discussed' your mistake. I won't say I forgive you but at least I am halfway to understanding your actions...and that is all I am willing to say on the subject.

[Avon nods and seems to be considering something.]

AVON: You accused me of treachery, do you still believe that?

NIAL: Can you disprove it?

AVON: Should I have to?

NIAL: You have been acting secretive and you've spent a lot of time alone with Orac. I know I'm not much company but I'd like to think I was preferable to that cantankerous computer.

AVON: [Almost smiling] Orac has never been a companion of choice. However, it is undoubtedly the most useful companion I have ever had the misfortune to be stuck with. Present company included.

NIAL: [In a dry tone] Thanks. Are you going to tell me what you've been up to...or do I have to guess?

[Avon smiles enigmatically and finally chooses to sit down. Nial watches him with open curiosity. Cut to the planet Yethanol; rebel base. Further Federation troops have arrived and the place is now teeming with activity. The last of the outlaws are escorted from the building to a waiting shuttlecraft. After a short pause it lifts off and rises rapidly into space. View shifts back to Avon and Nial.]

AVON: Do you remember I asked you a series of questions, back on Goma?

NIAL: About the Liberator.

AVON: And about the teleport system.

NIAL: Go on.

AVON: It occurred to me that we were not all wearing Liberator bracelets.

NIAL: So the Scorpio ones are compatible, so what?

AVON: They do not contain the same components.

NIAL: Really? Now that is interesting. How did Zen manage to pick you up then?

AVON: My investigation has led to the conclusion that it was due to the setting on the teleport inducer.

NIAL: ...because I set it to pick up anything transferable, on a wide band frequency.

AVON: Do you see the implication?

NIAL: We have to be careful or we'll end up with hitchhikers?

AVON: [Irritated] If we can gather enough of the raw materials required, we can produce devices which will enable us to teleport anything we choose, from any location, at any time. Eliminating the need for an exact fix on the current co-ordinates.

NIAL: A sort of teleport beacon.

AVON: Precisely. We merely attach the device and then sit back while Zen creates a wide enough field to transport the object.

NIAL: The teleport bay might need adjusting.

AVON: I've been working on that. We now have a second bay, large enough to accommodate almost anything.

[Nial gapes at him in disbelief and Avon holds his stare with dry amusement.]

NIAL: Where did you hide that?!

AVON: Down on level one, near the main cargo hold.

NIAL: No wonder you suggested we use the secondary hold for the Rev! Hang on though, are you sure these things will work? What if it was a fluke that you weren't vaporised on pick up?

AVON: The alternative had occurred to me. That is why I completed an extensive examination of the teleport system before I began this project. No malfunctions were registered and everything appears to have operated within normal capacities. Therefore, I see no reason to assume that the process cannot be repeated.

NIAL: Great, now all we have to do is collect the raw materials to make the beacons soon as we've penetrated the base on Yethanol and reclaimed our secret weapon, restored our shining reputation and given the Federation enough problems to keep them occupied for the next couple of centuries!

AVON: And what will we be doing tomorrow?

[They both manage a wry smile. The atmosphere is not exactly friendly but there is an air of acceptance and a thawing of hostilities. Cut to the flight deck- Mags, Vila and Garus are chatting. There is much laughter and exaggerated arm waving from Garus. Vila looks incredulous and Mags appears embarrassed.]

MAGS: It didn't happen quite like that.

VILA: It's true?!

MAGS: Most of it yes but don't believe everything Cray tells you. He does have a habit of exaggerating...and embellishing...his tales. [She grins at him] It's good to see you again Garus.

GARUS: You too Maggie, I've missed your homebrew. There was nothing on Lyriall that even came close to being a decent tipple!

MAGS: I'm sure you tried hard to find one though.

GARUS: You know me, always ready to accept hospitality.

MAGS: Especially from the female of the species...and I have heard that you aren't picky about which species.

GARUS: I love 'em all.

[Vila seems impressed and Mags laughs.]

MAGS: You two can swap stories later, we need to get back to discussing the plan first. We've still got a few kinks to work out before we can brief the others and we're running out of time.

ZEN: Information. Liberator is approaching orbit range of the planet Yethanol. Further instructions are now required.

MAGS: Damn, I should've kept my mouth shut.

GARUS: Quick, make a note of that Vila! I'll bet she never admits to it again, Mags has a habit of dishing out advice by the barrel load.

VILA: Most of it's good though.

[The others look at him in surprise and then Mags pats him gently on the shoulder.]

MAGS: I hope so because I'm beginning to get quite fond of you Vila.

GARUS: Watch out pal, she's on the lookout for husband number six!

[Cray dodges as Mags tries to thump him and they both laugh. Vila is smiling, he looks more relaxed than he has in a long time. In the midst of their gaiety, Nial wanders in with Avon. Soolin and Tegan are close behind.]

MAGS: Nial! That was good timing, I was just about to call you up here.

NIAL: I assume we've arrived then. [She nods] Right on schedule. I hope you've got a battle-plan worked out.

GARUS: More or less.

NIAL: Good. Wait a minute while I give Zen his orders, then we'll go through it.

[He walks across to check one of the consoles.]

NIAL: Zen, has the cloaking device been activated?

ZEN: All previous instructions have been completed.

NIAL: I'll take that as a yes.

AVON: Cloaking device?

NIAL: Apparently it keeps us invisible to everything except a detailed scan.

AVON: I know. I built it into the defence system myself...before it was destroyed.

NIAL: You must have modified the ship so well that Zen accepted it as an integral part of the Liberator and rebuilt it.

AVON: That's not possible. A start-up program by definition cannot include later adaptations.

NIAL: But it did. Maybe Zen is able to choose what and who, to remember.

[Avon frowns and suddenly seems unsure of his ground.]

NIAL: Zen, you will have to manoeuvre the Liberator to keep it off the close range scan of any approaching ships but within teleport distance of the planet.

ZEN: Confirmed.

NIAL: Okay. Mags, Vila, Garus...which one of you would like to fill us in on the plan?


[The surface of Yethanol. Avon, Tegan and Mags are crouched behind a rocky ridge at the top of an embankment overlooking the base complex. Tegan is fidgeting impatiently and Avon seems bored. Mags is concentrating her attention on the base.]

TEGAN: How much longer?

MAGS: Another thirty minutes or so should do it. No one's used that tunnel in years, there may have been a cave-in or two. We have to give them time to reach the base before we start causing trouble.

TEGAN: I wish we could've used a signal system.

AVON: Through a building shielded as a missile silo. What do you suggest they do, ask the nearest guard to give us a wave?

TEGAN: You really enjoy making yourself unpopular don't you?

MAGS: [In a warning tone] Tegan, Avon is as bored as you are and I'm getting fed up with the pair of you sniping at each other to amuse yourselves.

TEGAN: Sorry Mags but you know how I hate hanging around.

MAGS: Then spend your time working out the best way to bring half the hillside down on that base.

[The shot pans round and zooms in for a close up of the base. Federation guards are busy patrolling and/or loading debris onto large trucks. Scene switches to show Nial, Vila and Garus in a narrow tunnel. It is illuminated by a small lamp carried by Vila.]

VILA: There it was again! Listen...[they hear a soft scuffling sound]...I told you I wasn't imaging things.

NIAL: It's only a rat Vila...probably.

VILA: Rats, agh! What do you mean 'probably'?

GARUS: Oh we found all sorts of odd things down here when we moved in. That's partly why we bricked up this tunnel.

VILA: You don't have to sound so cheerful about it.

NIAL: Just hold the lamp steady Vila and keep moving.

VILA: Is it much further? I've got rocks in my boots and the dust is bringing on my asthma.

GARUS: I didn't know you were asthmatic.

NIAL: Only when it suits him. Stop moaning Vila, this is the easy bit.

VILA: I can't understand how the Federation let you get away with building this. It wouldn't rate highly in my secret hideout handbook...[He assumes an upper class accent]...Ah yes, the rebel base. Open plan, huge complex, just down the valley there, you can't miss it!

NIAL: Most of it was built quite legitimately by the mining corporation. They were Federation controlled so they were allowed to do more or less as they pleased. When the precious metals were mined out, they moved out. After a decent interval, we moved in. A few alterations and it became an installation secure enough to enable us to work on new projects in relative safety.

VILA: [Sotto voce] Relative to what?

NIAL: Did you say something Vila?

VILA: Um, yes...if the Federation built them then they know about the tunnels, they could be here at any minute. We should leave now, while we've got the chance.

[Garus treads on a loose stone and Vila nearly jumps out of his skin.]

NIAL: Relax, we're safe enough down here. The mining operation was a typical Federation rush job, no doubt to avoid any local restrictions. It was pushed through so quickly that they didn't even bother filing a plan. We found most of the tunnels by trial and error. There are no maps for them.

VILA: You mean we could be lost down here?!

NIAL: least not while Cray's with us.

GARUS: [loudly] There, up ahead! I think we've reached the right spot.

[They move forward till the light shines on a bricked up alcove to their left. There are faint markings scratched into one of the bricks and Garus runs his fingers across them.]

GARUS: This is it Nial. This one opens onto the maintenance section. As long as Vila can get us through there, we should have a clear run to the weapon silo.

NIAL: He'd better work fast, it took longer than I expected to get here and first we have to take out all these bricks.

VILA: All of them!

NIAL: We may have to leave in a hurry and I'd rather not get stuck squeezing through a hole with several hundred Troopers on my tail.

[He puts down his backpack and takes various digging tools out of it. Garus appears eager to begin but Vila looks sick at the thought. View switches back to the exterior of the base. Avon and Mags are levering rocks into place at the top of the embankment whilst Tegan keeps watch.]

MAGS: I hope that's enough for a small landslide. We need to create a diversion but without burying the place.

AVON: It's mainly loose scree, the rocks should travel quickly without triggering a complete avalanche.

TEGAN: It's almost time. The guards are coming round to the front again.

[Avon and Mags scramble back under cover as Tegan prepares to launch the largest rock. It has been pre-balanced on a nearby ledge and she grunts with effort as she levers it loose and watches it roll towards the other rocks. Down below, a Federation truck arrives. The noise from its engine covers the initial sound of the landslide but as it is switched off the guards become suddenly aware of their danger. There is a mad dash for safety and the truck is abandoned to its fate. Up above, Tegan, Mags and Avon are making themselves scarce. They run along a dirt track, through a gully and head for the hills surrounding the rear of the complex. The scene cuts back to Nial and his team who are now inside the building. They are approaching the entrance to a short corridor.]

GARUS: There's another trap coming up. Once we reach the middle of the corridor the doors will seal. If the correct code isn't entered into the hidden panel in time, the vents will release sonovapour and the system will alert the guards to our presence. How fast can you work Vila?

VILA: How long have I got?

GARUS: Four minutes.

VILA: No problem.

GARUS: Did I mention that the panel will need breaking into before you can begin to crack the code?

VILA: I suppose next you're going to tell me that I need to find it first.

GARUS: [Laughing suddenly] No, I know where it's hidden. Wouldn't want to make things too difficult for you buddy!

VILA: [Sarcastically] Oh that's a relief, for a moment there I was starting to get worried.

GARUS: Did I say four minutes? Silly me...I meant two.

[Nial and Garus grin at each other. Vila looks rather less pleased. Cut back to Avon, Tegan and Mags. They are catching their breath in a sheltered quarry.]

MAGS: That was a stroke of luck. Hopefully they'll think they set it off with their own vehicle.

TEGAN: And if not, at least we've put one of their trucks out of action. Shame those two guards got away in time.

AVON: We are here to cause confusion, not assassinate people.

MAGS: Avon's right. We don't want them to realise they're under attack, not yet anyway.

TEGAN: [Huffily] So what's our next move then?

MAGS: [Smiling grimly] I thought perhaps a small fire...

AVON: That should get their attention.

MAGS: to the fuel dumps.

TEGAN: Well you got my attention! What are we waiting for? Let's go.

[She strides away. The others begin to follow her and Mags puts a hand gently on Avon's arm.]

MAGS: Don't judge her too harshly Avon. Her ex-husband was a Federation officer. One day he put his career before his family...she lost both her sons.

[Before he can reply she hurries onwards and he is forced to rush to keep up. Cut back to Garus and Vila loitering together. Nial is nowhere to be seen. There is a sudden noise behind them and Garus whips round with his gun raised.]

NIAL: Don't shoot! It's me.

VILA: I wish you wouldn't creep up on us like that, it's bad for my nerves.

GARUS: You managed to get round in a loop then? I guess I owe you twenty credits. Damn, I was sure it wasn't possible.

NIAL: Keep your money, I cheated. I had to get up in the roof space and crawl for most of the journey. You were right, we can't bring the weapon round that way.

GARUS: We'll have to stick to Mags original plan and cut a connecting tunnel through from the silo.

NIAL: Provided we can manage to take control of the area. From what I've seen, there may be more guards here than I counted on.

GARUS: We still have the element of surprise.

VILA: [Miserably] Yeah, they'd hardly expect three people to be stupid enough to attack an army.

NIAL: Then they'll probably be so surprised that we'll have beaten them before they even realise we're serious!

[He sets off down a corridor and the others follow him. It ends at a wide door with green markings on. He signals for them to approach cautiously.]

NIAL: [In a low voice] Once we go through here you'll have to remain silent till we pass the exit door. Any noise will trigger the mechanism to release sections of the floor at random. It's a fifty metres or so plunge down a mineshaft. It doesn't look a pleasant way to die.

GARUS: I wondered where I'd put that trap!

VILA: I'm sure if I designed something so deadly I'd remember where I left it.

GARUS: Life is just a game Vila. If you know where all the traps are, you loose the thrill of adventure, the excitement...

VILA: The danger.

[Garus laughs quietly and claps him on the back. Nial frowns at them both and then begins to silently ease the door open. They enter and move with painstaking slowness across the long room. The atmosphere becomes tense and Vila stifles a nervous cough. One floor panel suddenly drops away and they speed up frantically. When they finally exit through the far door they are all sweating with stress.]

VILA: I hope we're not going back that way.

NIAL: Not a chance. [Pointing to a heavy security door.] Go and work your magic on that door Vila. We need to get into the main building and then fight our way to the weapon silo.

VILA: I don't suppose I could change my mind about going back?

NIAL: [Grimly] No, not a chance.

[Vila moves to the door, opens a flap on it, fiddles about for a few seconds and then turns to wave the others across.]

VILA: Easy, for a man of my skill.

NIAL: Can we applaud quietly? This section was bursting with guards earlier.

[Vila cautiously swings the door open as Nial and Garus leap through, their guns at the be met by an empty corridor. The silence is unnerving and they stare around in confusion.]

NIAL: I don't understand. Where is everyone?

GARUS: Perhaps the canteen's open now.

VILA: That sounds like a good idea, I'm starving. [Nial gives him an odd look] Well I did miss lunch.

NIAL: Next time we'll pack sandwiches okay? Can we just get a move on while it's quiet!

[They follow him as he speeds away, guns still poised for action. Scene cuts to an exterior shot of the rear of the base, the fuel dump. A fire is raging out of control nearby, fed by leakage from the dump. Teams of guards are running back and forth trying to stem the flames. Other groups are desperately trying to remove barrels of fuel whilst still more are building fire-blocks. Extra guards keep arriving to give their help in the attempt to prevent an explosion. From a safe distance away, Avon, Mags and Tegan are watching with interest.]

MAGS: I didn't think it would spread so quickly, I almost feel sorry for them.

AVON: It seems to be true what they say about 'playing with fire'.

TEGAN: Serves them right. They started it by stealing our project.

MAGS: I just hope we've given Nial enough space to steal it back in.

TEGAN: There must be over half the squad out here by now! We've certainly evened things up for him.

MAGS: That's all we can do, besides pray for a successful mission.

TEGAN: [Scornfully] Pray! We make our own success in this world.

AVON: [Glancing at Mags] I'm inclined to agree with her on that.

MAGS: Well that's the first thing you two have agreed on so far! Perhaps on that harmonious note we should take a break and contact Soolin with our report. It's about time we let her know what's going on down here. Avon, do you want to do the honours?

AVON: Why not. [Into bracelet] Liberator, this is Avon.

SOOLIN: [V.O] About time! I thought you were having so much fun down there you'd forgotten all about me.

AVON: [Dryly] How could we have fun without your warm and cheerful presence?

SOOLIN: [V.O] Niceties from you Avon, make me feel about as warm and cheerful as a poisonous snake. Perhaps you'd better get on with the report.


[Flight deck of the Liberator. Soolin is leaning against a console listening to Avon's voice through the comm channel.]

AVON: [V.O] ...enough to keep the Federation busy whilst Nial completes his side of the operation, if he can.

SOOLIN: [Into com] He can and he will. Just make sure that you don't get caught. I'm in no condition to mount a rescue mission on my own.

AVON: I am always careful, don't waste your concern.

SOOLIN: [Into com] I wasn't was a friendly warning. Out.

[She cuts the connection and sits down in the nearest flight chair. She seems bored and soon begins to drum her fingers on the console.]

ORAC: A coded message has been directed to my circuits. The transmission was inferior and its origins are indecipherable. What do you wish me to do with it? It is taking up valuable space and I must insist on an immediate decision.

SOOLIN: Can you decode it?

ORAC: Of course I can! It is a simple numerical system, well below my capabilities.

SOOLIN: Then give me the message Orac! Is that simple and immediate enough for your capabilities?

ORAC: [Sulkily] It is now logged in the ships memory bank. I have instructed Zen to relay it. The process is more suited to a lesser machine.

SOOLIN: Stop giving yourself airs Orac. We've only your word that Zen is a lesser machine. I've often found that people who don't boast have more to boast about than the ones who do. [She turns away from Orac] Relay the message please Zen.

[There is a brief pause then the audio channel fills with the sound of a sonorous male voice.]

AUDIO: Crew of the Liberator, greetings from Warlord Morgon of Phenox. I have a proposition for you. My people have proven immune to pylene 50 and our planet has been placed under Federation arrest. We wish to discuss an alliance, our secret in return for your assistance to free ourselves from these oppressors. I believe we can reach amicable terms and I ask you to consider my offer with the utmost immediacy.

[There follows an interval of silence until finally Soolin grows impatient.]

SOOLIN: Is that it Zen?

ZEN: Confirmed. Message has been relayed in entirety.

SOOLIN: Morgon must be a proud man, I never heard a request for help worded quite like that before! Zen, do we have any information on the planet Phenox?

ZEN: Information is limited but available.

SOOLIN: Okay, give me what you've got. It beats sitting around minding the ship. [She sighs deeply] It doesn't compare favourably to being part of the action down there though. I hope they appreciate how lucky they are.

[Cut back to surface of Yethanol. Avon and Tegan are watching the fire. Mags is drawing maps in the dirt with a stick.]

MAGS: Over here people! This next move is a little complicated but it should work out well, if we get our timing right.

[Avon and Tegan begin to move as she gestures to them. Suddenly a twig snaps in the woods behind. Avon immediately draws his gun but a voice from the opposite side stops him in his tracks.]

FEDERATION LEADER: I wouldn't do that if I were you.

[Avon turns to face a trio of Federation guards with their guns trained on him. Three more guards emerge from the woods behind Mags. All of them have their weapons pointed at the group.]

LEADER: Put your gun down, slowly...[Avon reluctantly complies]...and the rest of you. [Mags and Tegan follow suit.]

GUARD: You see sir, I told you I saw movement in this area!

LEADER: Yes, well done Mosley. I'll make sure you get a commendation for this.

[He turns to scowl threateningly at the rebels. Avon scowls back, Tegan looks defiant and Mags seems quietly resigned to the predicament.]

LEADER: And as for you...people...I'm sure you think this is all just a game. Unfortunately for you, I don't. Some of my men have been badly scarred dealing with your arson attempt. You'll be disappointed to hear that you failed to ignite the fuel dump but that's win some, you lose some and you lost this one. [He snorts derisively] It was all rather pointless really. Your friends are no longer here...literally in some cases. [Mags stiffens in shock but remains silent] We moved most of them out the day we arrived but don't worry, I'll see to it personally that you're reunited with them, aboard a prison ship. [To the guards] Take them back to the base and then widen the search in case any more of these vermin escaped the invasion.

[Avon, Tegan and Mags are led away. The scene cuts back to Nial and team who are sitting inside an inspection channel whilst Vila picks the lock on an exit hatch. He gives them a 'thumbs up' then moves aside so Nial can ease the hatch open and peep out. Beyond is a computer room. A man and a woman in long white coats are working together at a console. A guard is inside the room but his attention is on the transmitter he's listening to. Nial closes the hatch carefully.]

NIAL: [Whispering] I can only see one guard but no doubt there's more of them outside the door. We'll have to take him down without a fuss or they'll be in here before we can secure the room. On the plus side, I think we can rely on the technicians for help.

VILA: Not if they're Federation.

NIAL: They're not.

VILA: How can you be sure? Just because they aren't wearing uniforms?! That doesn't prove anything...I never saw Servalan in uniform.

GARUS: That's an entertaining thought. What sort of uniform did you have in mind?

NIAL: Stop encouraging him Garus. Give me a bit of credit Vila, I don't always operate on guesswork.

VILA: That's comforting, at least I think it is. [To himself] How often is 'not always'?

NIAL: One of those technicians was with my original resistance group, he defected from the Federation.

VILA: Maybe he rejoined?

NIAL: Dalma? I doubt it. [He pauses] We'll find out soon enough though won't we?

[He eases the hatch open once more and looks out. The guard is still oblivious as Nial climbs stealthily into the room but glances up in shock as he realises he's about to be attacked. Luckily he chooses to fight rather than raise the alarm. As he struggles to overpower Nial, Vila and Garus enter. Vila picks up a box from a nearby desk and hits the guard across the side of his head. The man is dazed and releases Nial to turn on Vila. Garus punches him in the face and he goes down without a sound.]

NIAL: Nice work, now let's get that door locked before his friends decide to join us.

GARUS: I'll make him comfortable, if I can find some rope.

[Nial retrieves his backpack from the inspection channel and hands Garus a coil of rope from it. He then turns to deal with the door but it has already been secured by the two technicians.]

DALMA: Nial, it's good of you to drop in.

NIAL: [Grinning] How could I leave you in the hands of the Feds, you still owe me two hundred credits remember?

DALMA: I was hoping you'd forgotten that. I'm a bit short at the moment, I put all my savings on a dead cert.

NIAL: And you lost.


[She advances towards them extending her left hand to show off an ornate ring set with a large clear gemstone. Her smile lights up a beautiful oriental face, framed by long black hair held back in a loose knot at the nape of her neck.]

DALMA: Let me introduce my fiancée, Professor Kimling Chen.

KIMLING: Please, call me Kim. [She takes his hand] It is an honour to meet you Nial Blake. I have heard much about your life.

NIAL: Thank you Kim but if you're the same Professor Chen who pioneered the move to stop mutoid modification, then the honour is mine.

DALMA: [Proudly] She's the most remarkable woman I ever met. It was Kim who developed the prototype for this project. All I did was help to put it together.

NIAL: That brings me to the reason for our visit. Vila, Garus and I are here to rescue the weapon...and yourselves of course.

DALMA: Garus...not Cray Garus, the man who designed the security measures for this place? [Garus nods cheerfully] No wonder you managed to get this far!

[Vila coughs loudly and Garus thumps him on the back in a comradely fashion.]

GARUS: Of course we couldn't have done it without my lock-picking friend here!

NIAL: Dalma, Vila Restal. He was a member of Blake's legendary Liberator crew.

KIM: [Smiling warmly] It is a pleasure to welcome a person as famous as yourself to our humble base.

VILA: [visibly delighted] Famous...yes I am aren't I and not without good reason. Let me tell you...

NIAL: Not now. Dalma, before we take the weapon out of here I need to know where the prisoners are being held.

[Dalma and Kim exchange glances of regret.]

DALMA: The Federation transported them all out. The only reason they left us here is because Kim destroyed the blueprints and they don't know which of us designed the weapon.

VILA: But if it's finished, why do they still need you?

KIM: They hoped to force us to build more of the weapons, enough to supply all their fleets.

DALMA: [Quietly] Every day another one of our friends is murdered. We receive vis-tapes of the persuade us to co-operate.

KIM: [Even more quietly] We will never co-operate.

NIAL: Then the faster we get out of here the better. [To Garus] Fetch the scanner, we need to find the point at which the silo is closest to a mine tunnel. It's lucky that so many of them started out from the base itself. Let's hope we don't have to dig too far to reach one.

VILA: More hard labour?! I wish I'd gone with the others. Avon always gets the easy jobs. I bet he's lazing about in the sun right now.

[The scene cuts back to the other team. Three Federation guards are shoving them along a narrow track through a valley. Suddenly a shout is heard and the guards are attacked. The battle is short and soon the guards lie dead on the ground. The mystery attackers melt once more into the undergrowth leaving one man behind. He levels his gun at the Liberator crew.]

MAN: What is your business here?

AVON: What's yours?

MAN: My people have you surrounded. If we like your answer we may let you live. This is your last chance...why are you here?

TEGAN: We're fighting the Feds! So are you obviously, so what's your problem?!

MAGS: [Interjecting quickly] What she means is, we seem to be on the same side so why are you threatening us?

MAN: Because I think you might be the reason that the searches have suddenly been stepped up.

AVON: We may have caused an amount of minor disruption.

MAN: You set the fire?

TEGAN: Yes we did.

MAN: It wasn't close enough to the fuel dump.

MAGS: [Sighing] It wasn't supposed to be.

MAN: A diversion...for what purpose?

AVON: [Glaring at his companions] Before we tell you anything else, I'd like to know what your purpose is.

MAN: You don't remember me but we have met briefly, Kerr Avon. My name is Brac. I was one of Cauder's men, on Albion.

AVON: [Stunned] Grant.

BRAC: Yes, if it wasn't for you and Grant defusing that bomb I wouldn't be here now. In fact that's the only reason we helped, I felt I owed you a favour.

MAGS: You mean if you hadn't recognised Avon you'd have stood by and let the Feds take us?!

BRAC: We've learnt not to interfere in the troubles of others. No one came to our aid when we were attacked.

TEGAN: What do you think we're doing here stupid?

MAGS: We're from Goma Brac, we came to liberate the rebels and reclaim the weapon.

BRAC: [Bitterly] Well you're too late. Half of our people were slaughtered after the battle, "as an example to dissidents everywhere". The rest were shipped out...probably dumped in space as another 'example'. If you want that weapon you're welcome to it but don't expect any more assistance from us.

[He strides away and is soon lost from view.]

TEGAN: Bunch of losers! Some sister base they turned out to be.

AVON: Families are often more a liability than a source of support.

TEGAN: How would you know. I bet your own family disowned you years ago.

[She grabs a gun from the body of one of the guards and stamps away up the track. Mags gives Avon a disappointed glance, retrieves her own gun and sets off after her friend. Avon actually manages to look a little sheepish as he fetches himself a gun and slowly follows them. Action cuts back to the weapon silo. Part of the metal panelling has been removed and the original wall can be clearly seen. Dalma and Garus are busy smashing a tunnel through it. Vila is offering encouragement whilst checking the route on a scanner. Nial is in the computer room with Kim. They are barricading the outer door with a pile of desks and equipment when someone thumps on it loudly.]

GUARD: This is Section Leader Wood. I demand to know what is going on.

KIM: We have decided not to work for the Federation.

WOOD: You have no choice. Stop this foolish behaviour or your colleagues will suffer.

KIM: We are concerned only for our own safety. We will allow no one access to this room until we have spoken to your president.

WOOD: The President! Are you insane, I can't fetch him here on your whim! Look lady, open the door now and start co-operating with us and I'll see that you both remain alive long enough to face trial. Then you can appeal to the President.

KIM: We refuse your terms.

WOOD: Then stand clear of the door...we'll blast our way in.

KIM: If you attempt to do this, we will destroy the weapon. Fetch your president. Then we will talk.

WOOD: Damn revolutionaries. [He pauses] You have one of my men in there. Let me speak to him.

KIM: He is unconscious but otherwise unharmed. We will release him only when we have spoken to the Terran president.

[Wood bangs loudly on the door in frustration, then leaves. Nial gives a sigh of relief.]

NIAL: [Whispering] You've bought us some time at least. Whilst they think they're dealing with a mutiny, they won't be busy searching for intruders.

[Vila wanders in and Nial signals him to stay silent. They all walk through to the silo.]

VILA: It's going to take hours to dig through to the mines. Can't we just remove the rest of the panels and teleport the stuff out?

NIAL: Didn't you listen to what Orac said? If we use the teleport it might damage some of the weapons vital components. The whole system could fail! Maybe that doesn't bother you but I'd rather not take an unstable missile aboard the Liberator.

VILA: It was only a suggestion.

DALMA: Stop suggesting and start digging Vila! I need a break.

[He hands his excavating tool to Vila and then sinks to the ground next to Kim. Vila groans as he walks to join Garus who is whistling cheerfully while he works.]

DALMA: He's right about one thing, it will take hours to tunnel through there.

NIAL: If you can think of an easier way I'll be happy to hear it.

[Dalma shakes his head and Kim shrugs and smiles. View changes to show a small rocky valley. Avon and Mags have finally caught up with Tegan.]

TEGAN: What now?

MAGS: I don't know but whatever we decide, we'd better be careful. We've lost the advantage of surprise. Any suggestions Avon?

AVON: As a matter of fact, yes.

[His communicator suddenly bleeps.]

SOOLIN: [on comm] Avon.

TEGAN: [Muttering] Saved by the bell.

SOOLIN: [V.O] Avon! Are you there?

AVON: [Into comm] Where else would I be?

SOOLIN: [V.O] Orac just picked up an urgent transmission from the base. It's for the personal attention of the Terran President.

MAGS: The President!

AVON: [Into comm] Coded, I presume.

SOOLIN: [V.O] It's a new type. Without a current Federation cipher machine it could take months to unscramble.

AVON: [Into comm] When did the message go out?

SOOLIN: [V.O] I'll check.

[There is a short pause. Mags is calm but obviously worried. Tegan appears agitated and is fidgeting again.]

SOOLIN: [V.O] Almost twenty minutes ago.

AVON: Kind of you to inform us so swiftly.

SOOLIN: [V.O] The delay was no choice of mine. Orac only just mentioned it! I don't think he wanted to admit he'd picked up a message he couldn't read.

AVON: [Grinning] Pride has always been one of Orac's more endearing qualities.

SOOLIN: [V.O] I never noticed that Orac had any endearing qualities.

AVON: Remote activation of the teleport system?

SOOLIN: [V.O] I suppose that would count. I take it you want to come up.

AVON: I see no reason to stay down here.

[Mags shakes her head but doesn't argue and the next instant they are enclosed in the white glow of the teleport field and transported back to the ship. Avon immediately removes his bracelet and hurries to the flight deck. The two women follow him. Soolin turns to face them all as they enter the room.]

SOOLIN: What did you do to make them start shouting for the President?

AVON: Nothing. Which means one of two possibilities; either they now have the weapon operational or...

MAGS: ...they have Nial, Cray and Vila.

TEGAN: I don't care much for either option.

SOOLIN: There could be another explanation.

AVON: Such as?

SOOLIN: I don't know, I just think that we shouldn't jump to conclusions.

MAGS: [Softly to Soolin] While there's hope, we will not destroy that base.

AVON: Not until the president of the Terran Federation is inside it.

TEGAN: Sounds good to me. What time do you think he'll get here?

MAGS: Earth is a long way off Tegan. With a little luck, we'll be finished here before the President even packs his bag and boards his ship.

AVON: Luck is an illogical and unreliable concept.

SOOLIN: Is there a point to that statement?

[Orac whirrs loudly]

ORAC: A reply transmission has been issued from the Terran President. It is uncoded. I presume you wish me to relate it.

AVON: Of course.

ORAC: Very well. The President is currently touring this sector. He is within a high-speed battle cruiser and will reach Yethanol in less than four hours.

[Avon smiles in an annoying 'told you so' fashion and Soolin frowns.]

SOOLIN: That doesn't give Nial much time to get out if he is in trouble.

AVON: It was his plan.

MAGS: No, it was mine...and if I have to, I'll go in alone before I accept that it's failed.

TEGAN: Not alone Mags. I owe you too much to let you do that.

SOOLIN: And I owe Nial. If you go it will be with me as back-up.

AVON: Very inspiring but I will destroy that base regardless before I leave this sector.

MAGS: I understand, as did Nial. He'd be pleased to know you were prepared to carry out his final orders.

AVON: It is not a question of orders but of survival. The Liberator cannot outrun a missile which travels at standard by eighteen.

SOOLIN: How fast?!

MAGS: Didn't Nial tell you why the secret weapon was so secret?

SOOLIN: But standard by that possible?

TEGAN: At this moment I hope not but we've got four hours to worry about it.

AVON: At that speed, if they fire, we won't have any time to worry about it.

[They all drop silent. View switches to the weapon silo. Garus and Vila are resting. Nial and Dalma are presumably digging. Kim walks through from the computer room.]

KIM: The guard is conscious. He has agreed not to create disharmony, for his own sake and the sake of his descendants.

VILA: He has a family?

KIM: He wishes to have, one day.

GARUS: How can someone so beautiful sound so dangerous?

VILA: How can someone with such a reputation say something so stupid?

GARUS: Don't mock it Vila, you'd be surprised how often it works.

VILA: Not for me it doesn't.

GARUS: Ah well, some of us have it and some...are not as fortunate as myself. Don't worry about it Vila. Life is just a game, remember?

KIM: [Sadly] If only human beings would play by the rules...we might create a game worth winning.

[There is a sudden loud knock on the outer door of the computer room. The three hurry through and Kim approaches the door.]

WOOD: You in there, are you listening?!

KIM: We are listening Section Leader Wood.

WOOD: You are an extremely lucky pair of trouble causers. The President is already in this sector and he's agreed to speak with you.

KIM: We are honoured by his courtesy.

WOOD: You will be, in about three and half-hours. Use your time well lady. Pray to your ancestors or whatever it is you Orientals do because I'm personally going to see to it that you and your boyfriend get a death sentence for this.

[He thumps in anger on the door then stamps loudly away. Vila and Garus release the breath they didn't even notice they were holding and together with Kim, walk back into the silo.]

VILA: Three and a half hours! I hope we're out of here by then. Section Leader Wood doesn't sound like the sort of man who'd be pleased to find gatecrashers.

GARUS: Be fair, he can see his chances of promotion slipping away, he's bound to feel aggrieved. Mind you, if he knew he'd got the famous Vila Restal and the irresistible Cray Garus trapped in here...

VILA: And Nial Blake.

GARUS: Of course...I think he'd be in a much better mood.

VILA: Oh good.

[Garus laughs and claps him on the back heartily.]

GARUS: Let's go and do some more digging my friend. Bet you a whole bottle of Parthian rum that I'm the first to break through.

VILA: You've got a bottle of that?! Why didn't you say so, I'd eat my way through the wall for one glass of that stuff!

[Back on board the Liberator, the crew are moving restlessly around the flight deck.]

ZEN: Information. The battle cruiser and three unidentified ships are now registering on long range scan.

SOOLIN: Visual please Zen.

ZEN: Confirmed.

[The ships waver into view on the main screen and everyone stares as the images grow clearer.]

MAGS: It's got the presidential seal.

TEGAN: Where?

MAGS: Near side, above the docking hatch.

TEGAN: Yeah, I see it. The smaller ships must be a guard complement then.

AVON: That would be logical.

SOOLIN: Probably the Federation's latest design. Loaded with heavy artillery from the look of them.

AVON: Keep the Liberator as far out of range as possible Zen. Let's hope they were chosen for combat and not tracking ability, we are ill equipped to take on four war ships simultaneously.

TEGAN: At least we're not in a planet-hopper.

[The others look at her in sudden realisation and Mags groans.]

MAGS: First we prayed to spot the Reverence on our scanners at any we have to pray that we don't!

[The atmosphere grows tense as the crew watch the ships slowly approaching the planet.

Meanwhile, at the base, Nial and the others are back in the tunnel network. They are all laden down with parts of the weapon system. A stack of missiles lashed onto a trolley, is being pulled along slowly and carefully by Dalma and Garus.]

NIAL: I have to go back and replace the panels.

DALMA: You'll never find the way out without Garus.

NIAL: I don't have any choice Dalma. If we leave it as it is, the Feds will be after us with tracking devices before we've got anywhere near the Rev.

GARUS: If you can make it back to the maintenance section, we could wait for you in the tunnel there. It's far enough from this section to be safe but it shouldn't add too much distance to our exit route.

NIAL: If that's your best option, I'll take it.

[He draws Garus to one side and lowers his voice.]

NIAL: At the first sign of trouble, ditch the weapon and get the others to safety...don't wait for me. Soolin will destroy the base if necessary and I don't want to be responsible for the deaths of any more of my friends.

[Garus nods and Nial heads back up the tunnel towards the faint patch of light behind them. The others continue their slow progress onwards. Cut back to the Liberator.]

ZEN: The battle cruiser has landed on Yethanol.

AVON: And the other vessels?

ZEN: The smaller ships have remained in orbit. Do you require a visual?

AVON: No, just keep track of their positions and inform us if they approach.

SOOLIN: What do we do now Avon?

AVON: We wait.

TEGAN: For what, Armageddon?!

AVON: Possibly.

MAGS: [Sotto voce] Come on're running out of time.

[In the mine tunnels; Vila is beginning to fret and the others look nervous in the dim light. Garus peers through a hole in the brickwork once more then shakes his head.]

VILA: [Muttering] Come on Nial. Where is he? [Slightly louder] Maybe he got caught? That's it...he got caught! They're probably coming for us right now. I don't like it, we should leave.

GARUS: I hate to say this but Vila's right, we've waited as long as we can. Nial told me to get everyone out safely...I think it's time to do as he asked.

[They set off again reluctantly. The terrain is arduous and everyone seems weary. Reaching the end of the straight section, they are about to turn down one of the many tunnel mouths when there is a scrabbling noise behind them. Vila jumps in terror.]

VILA: Rats!

DALMA: [Doubtfully] It sounded very loud, for a rat. They aren't usually so careless.

VILA: Big rats!

DALMA: [To Garus] Do you think it could be one of those...things?

GARUS: I hope not.

VILA: What things?

GARUS: I mentioned them earlier. I told you we'd found, um, other things besides rats in here.

VILA: Yes but you never said exactly what!

GARUS: Somehow I don't really think you want to know the details Vila, not right now. Hurry everyone, down this tunnel. Douse the light Kim. We have to keep still and silent and...hope it's not hungry.

[Everything goes black and the view shifts back to the Liberator flight deck.]

TEGAN: What time is it Mags?

MAGS: [Sighing] Almost ten minutes later than when you last asked me.

SOOLIN: This isn't helping.

AVON: Neither is stating the obvious.

SOOLIN: I'm going down to look for them.

AVON: No, you are going to clear the neutron blasters and take aim on that building.

SOOLIN: You aren't in command any more Avon.

AVON: Then who is?

SOOLIN: Nial Blake.

AVON: And HIS orders were...?

[Soolin scowls but does walk to the appropriate console.]

SOOLIN: Neutron blasters are cleared, target is set. [She pauses coldly and deliberately] I will only fire when I choose to do so.

AVON: If the presidential ship attempts to leave that will fire.

[She turns her head away and everyone continues to watch the monitor, though all it shows is a hazy view of the planet.]


[Scene changes slowly to show the Liberator stationary above the planet, then switches back to the flight deck. The atmosphere is taut. The crew are occupying various flight positions and everyone seems agitated. Zen 'bleeps' and Tegan is visibly startled by the sound.]

ZEN: The battle cruiser has requested clearance and is preparing to launch.

AVON: Have you received any communication from Reverence?

ZEN: Negative.

AVON: Then we must finish what we started...Soolin?

[He gestures at the button in front of her. She hesitates, glances once more at the screen, then reaches for the button. Abruptly the comm channel chimes. Soolin exhales loudly as she drops her hand.]

NIAL: [V.O] Liberator this is Reverence. Mission successful. Open the doors we're coming home!

[Most of the crew are either seated in the pit area or are standing nearby, except for Avon. He is leaning on the wall by one of the entranceways, distancing himself.]

VILA: ...Nial creeping up on us again. I really thought I'd had it when the 'thing' fell over me!

NIAL: I thought I'd had it when your light vanished! I daren't call out in case the Feds were already in the tunnels.

GARUS: it was good to see you again anyway.

VILA: It would have been good to see you, it was pitch black at the time!

GARUS: Never mind Vila. Remember, Life is...

VILA: I know...just a game. At least we won this round.

NIAL: Yes, we won. We succeeded in recapturing the weapon. It won't bring back those we've lost but maybe it will ease the way for those of us left behind to continue the fight.

[There are nods of tired agreement as Nial rises and makes his way across to Mags.]

MAGS: We missed coming face to face with the President again. Perhaps we'll never find out who he is, maybe we're not supposed to.

NIAL: Maybe it was just the wrong time and place.

MAGS: Maybe. [She smiles] And now we must go onwards and upwards my friend.

NIAL: That sounds like something Tam would have said.

MAGS: [Softly] I miss him too Nial.

[He pats her shoulder gently then walks away to speak to Avon.]

NIAL: I've given the co-ordinates to Orac, all you have to do is be there to meet us in eighteen days time.

AVON: And field-test the new weapon, once it is fitted.

NIAL: I wouldn't want you to get bored and wander off.

[He begins to walk out into the corridor but Avon steps in front of him.]

AVON: To what do I owe this sudden display of trust?

NIAL: I have to assess the situation on Phenox. It may be some kind of trap, we'd be foolish to all go running in. I need Kim and Dalma to verify Morgon's claim of resistance to Pylene fifty. Soolin will be piloting the Rev, with Tegan's assistance of course. [He smiles] Who else would I leave in charge of the Liberator?

AVON: With Mags, Garus and Vila to watch me.

NIAL: To help you...look Avon, I have to trust you some time. I'd just rather it didn't come down to a time when my life was on the line, then find out that I was wrong in my choice after all.

[He sighs wearily and Avon moves aside to let him leave. When the corridor is quiet, Avon smiles grimly to himself.]

AVON: Blake would have been proud of you.

[End Credits]

A wonderful episode, I really enjoyed it!
I'm so glad because primarily it's supposed to be entertaining. There are plot twists, ulterior motives and hopefully a few surprises within the series but mostly I just want it to be fun.

The opening scene with Vila and Mags was very well done. It was in character, moving, and covered a lot very efficiently without pausing to wallow. I like the subtlety of leaving what was said to the imagination, just showing us that when you see them later, Vila is happier.

I felt that Vila needed someone to make it clear to him that he was on a 'downward spiral'. Mags is a wonderful, caring woman and she's had alcohol problems herself so she's the perfect person to help him without making him feel like he's being lectured. Now, little by little, Vila can start to return to his former buoyant self and he'll be far happier to be aboard the ship.

You get Vila's style of speech just right though, esp his muttering to himself.

Thanks. I love writing for Vila. I think he usually got the best lines in the originals so I try to give him plenty in mine. Perhaps I can empathise with him too well, I'm very good at 'swallowing my shoe' by being tactless but like Vila, I never intend to hurt.

I like Garus with his sense of humour and fun, his thriving on danger (I know people like that) and his belief that life is a game. He's a great character and one I hope stays around for a while.

I'm so pleased you like him because I've got a soft spot for him and I do hope to keep him around for quite a while. I find his reckless enthusiasm very endearing though his vanity can be annoying at times. Hes one of those exhausting people who 'live life to the max' and tire everyone else out trying to keep up with them and he is going to improve spirits aboard the Liberator, whether they want him to or not!

I'm not sure about 'cloaking device', it sounds a bit Star Trek. Avon always called it a 'detector shield', and though Nial wouldn't know that, Zen probably would if he had retained Avon's gadget.

I agree 'detector shield' sounds better but there are two reasons I changed the name;

Firstly, it's not actually 'Avon's gadget' anymore... Zen adapted it as part of the ship and this version is more reliable than the original. When Nial first came aboard the rebuilt Liberator, sometime during his journey to GP he would have asked Zen about the capabilities/limits of the ship. I think that Zen mentioned the shield and Nial asked for an explanation of its purpose. Being only a youngster, he would have been awed by the idea of becoming invisible and thought of the device as an 'invisibility cloak'. (Who hasn't longed for one of those at some point in their childhood?) It seems reasonable to me that Nial would remember it as a cloak and consequently describe it as such to Zen when they approached GP and he wanted it activating. Zen does accept the crew phrasing things in different ways and only really quibbles the terminology when he doesn't want to answer a question. Nial called it thus so everyone else now does.

Secondly, I kept thinking of it as a 'cloaking device' and calling it the wrong name. I didn't want to end up missing one of these errors when I checked through so I decided it was easier to just rename the damn thing!

I cheered Soolin with her "Stop giving yourself airs, Orac. We've only your word that Zen is a lesser machine." Hah! Exactly my thoughts!

I don't think that Zen was ever given enough chance to shine. He was an incredible creation and I doubt Orac is more powerful though most fans seem to disagree with me on that. My series aims to expand on Zen's character and capabilities and see that Orac gets his 'just desserts' along the way.

A nice tight plot with great characters, and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Good. That's the best I hope for from each episode, that it is enjoyable and it induces an urge to read on.
I enjoyed It's A Game as a cheerful enough yarn. You still need to work on some of your dialogue, but the plot was quick-moving and good fun. The action's a bit simplistic again maybe, but none the worse for it.
What I'm striving for is 'light entertainment'. I don't want to give people headaches with double-cross after double-cross interlaced with gore and violence. I view Blake's 7 itself as something to watch when I want cheering up. If I want my brain power stretching, I read a book.
As you suggested, I do like Garus a lot more than Tam or Oren. He's got the kind of self-possessed cheeriness that other characters tend to find infuriating, and audiences therefore tend to love. I'm also growing to enjoy Tegan's impatient bitching at Avon. Her line, "I bet your own family disowned you years ago" was one of the best you've written so far! You should try and build on that because it's giving her a personality, which I think is something of a breakthrough. How often it's the characters who start tediously that have one good moment that enables them to find their stride. They then become some of the best.
Garus in a nutshell. Avon finds him particularly irritating. Personally I think he's cute but no doubt his sunny attitude to life would grate on me at times if I had to share a spaceship with him. Tegan on the other hand, is very bitter towards life and therefore is often short tempered. It's actually quite hard to establish everyone's personality as soon as they enter the scene because that would detract from the plots. Most of my characters develop a little at a time as their thoughts/beliefs/background influences are allowed to leak out. I like to give each person at least one 'starring role' episode, which by necessity means the rest of the crew taking a back seat. I find this a better method than trying to make everyone shine in every episode but it does mean that sometimes a character will do and say very little during the course of one script. It happened in the originals (study the transcripts if you don't believe me) so I regard it as a reasonable device.
Kim and Dalma I'm not so wowed about, but I won't take any churlish potshots at them just yet. Instead I'll wait till I've seen more of them... then I'll take churlish potshots at them.
You'll have to wait a long time, maybe forever. Kim and Dalma are only 'incidentals' and may never 'darken my door' again. (Though Kim is referred to on at least one more occasion.)
Mags was a bit preachy, especially at the beginning, which spoiled things a little. She's warm and wise, but I don't think she needs to demonstrate it quite so stridently or so often.
Fair point.
Other than those minor quibbles, a nice episode to sit and watch (okay, read) with your feet up and a tub of popcorn in hand.
Not read, watch... you were right the first time. That is precisely what I'm aiming at. I never lose sight of the fact that the scripts are supposed to be visual. That's why I include so many descriptions of the settings, costumes, peripheral action and facial expressions/characters moods in my scripts. I want it to be as vivid to the reader as it is to me when I visualise it.

Couldn't really get into this episode, which is another mixture of the exquisite and the exasperating. Nowhere is this more clear than in the dialogue, where there are some gems as usual ("Just toasting the departed", "It's empty", "There's a lot of them to toast"), which are brought crashing down by some serious clunkers, also as usual ("If you dont face your nightmares, eventually theyll destroy you." Very true of course, but cringingly put).

Garus is a far better character than Oren or Tam ever were, thankfully. (Mind you, that's a little like rating a movie in comparison with Police Academy 6.) He's less high-minded in his speech patterns, and is therefore a lot less irritating to read. Having said that, his constant use of the ancient "Life is just a game" cliche really grates. He seems very like Lando Calrissian from Star Wars in his outlook, which is fine, but I find characters who regularly recycle their mottos, especially mottos as old and worn out as that one, to be very tiresome indeed.

Here's a better one you can give Garus to say that's similar but fresher. I think it would suit his mentality just as well, without retreating into insightless verbal mediocrity. It goes like this...

"Life is a joke. It's just not a very good one, that's all."
Never heard of Lando Calrissian because I'm not really a Star Wars fan. I've seen the original film, long time ago at Xmas but haven't watched any of the others so I can't comment on a likeness between characters, sorry.
'Life is a joke' wouldn't suit him better as it has a totally different meaning and is far too cynical for Cray. He sees every event as a sport, in which he enjoys the taking part and cares little for the outcome. In some ways he is irresponsible but he had a hard upbringing and it's a wonder to me that he can still be so fun-loving.

The scene when Dalma and Kim are introduced is appalling, because it reads like the transcript of a Mid-Atlantic chat show, or even This Is Your Life. As soon as anyone introduces themselves, someone else immediately chimes in with a slavish summary of all their "wonderful" lifetime achievements. "Kimling Chen, my beautiful fiancee, may I present to you Cray Garus?" "Cray Garus? Not the Cray Garus? Not the wondrous super-genius of security design legend..." etc. Bloody hell, talk about playing to the audience! I was half-expecting Des O'Connor to walk in and start asking the usual set-up questions for feeding Vila's stand-up routine!

How else am I supposed to drop in boring background info?!
I wasn't too convinced by the scene with Brac in it either, as it just seemed to be a deliberate attempt to crowbar a backward reference into the story entirely for its own sake. Brac returning a favour to Avon for the save on Albion was a fair enough idea, but there didn't seem much point using it when he just dropped completely out of the storyline again as soon as he made the rescue. Might just as well not have bothered including him and let Avon and the others think up a clever escape plan on their own.

They didn't have time to think up a daring escape plan of their own. Plus they were stupid to get caught, who says they'd have been smart enough to escape anyway?

Brac did more than that but obviously you missed the point... he was there to illustrate how easily the rebels fell apart under pressure. As soon as there was trouble, he assumed he was on his own and withdrew his support for their 'sister-base'. Not all my rebels are fanatics willing to 'do or die', some are disillusioned people who feel let down by their leaders.
Plus side, Tegan's beginning to come into her own as a character, and no longer seems to have been added in purely as a writer's whim, while the new direction in Nial's frosty alliance with Avon was smooth and expertly-handled, and Vila's new "best buddies" (Mags and Garus) are looking good at propping him up psychologically. (He's been a miserable sod so far in Blake's Progress truth be told - not your fault, you can only do your best with the material handed on to you from season four of Blake's 7 - so a replacement for Cally as his confidante has become a matter of urgency.)
Vila gains a lot of new friends along the way but he had to be miserable first because until he'd hit rock-bottom he couldn't see he was heading there. Mags is the one who pointed it out to him and now he can relax a bit and enjoy the company of his new colleagues.
One thing, it's best you settle on a regular crew for the Liberator now and stop chopping and changing the newcomers, as it's becoming impossible for some of them to develop or for the readers to follow what's happening.
It was only episode 4, and I do seem to recall that Roj Blake only added Cally to the crew in episode 4 so I don't think it's a problem for my crew also to form within that amount of scripts. Like it or not, I don't want to limit myself to just a handful of regular characters and I don't have to pay them so I'm not tied to a BBC budget. However, from 5 onwards, the crew does stay rather more static.
The plot as a whole passes the time cheerfully enough, but it does start to drag slightly towards the end. I was thinking, "Oh for God's sake, Blake, will you please just get on with the escaping-from-the-jaws-of-death, I'm getting bored with all this tunneling!" Happily, the next thing I knew they were back on the Liberator and flying away, which was something of a relief - if the story had carried on any further from that point...

In other words, the episode kept going slightly beyond its shelf-life, but not dangerously so. Another story of fine vision but iffy execution.

It actually overran by about 4 pages and had to be chopped back to that!

Some of it was linked to continuity e.g. if they hadn't tunnelled so long, the President wouldn't have been able to arrive in time to almost make them blow up the base.

Realistically, it was more than fortunate that the President was even within a short enough distance to cause a threat but that's life.
One last thing... sorry to bang on about old subjects again, but I've got a quibble about Section Leader Wood. Wood? Section Leader Wood?! I know my complaints are usually about silly or exotic names but I think you went too far in the other direction with this one. "Wood" doesn't just sound unremarkable, it sounds like a part-time BBC Account Executive! Borrrrrrrr-ring! Doesn't matter really, but admit it, you really weren't trying at all this time.
I will admit nothing of the sort! The man is a stiff-necked 'badge-wearer' who wouldn't budge an inch if asked to bend the rules. Wood is what he is, not just who he is... but if you're interested in another argument, his first name is Titus. (Go on, tell me it's a ridiculous name and it doesn't fit with Wood! I liked the ambivalence.)
His stickler attitude is cruelly changed anyway when his beloved Federation blames him for the loss of the missile. You'll not hear about that 'till E1 of S6 though.
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